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Introduction

Association football is the most popular sport in England, where the first modern set of rules for the code were established in 1863, which were a major influence on the development of the modern Laws of the Game. With over 40,000 association football clubs, England has more clubs involved in the code than any other country as well as the world's first club (Sheffield F.C.), the world's oldest professional association football club (Notts County), the oldest national governing body (the Football Association), the first national team, the oldest national knockout competition (the FA Cup) and the oldest national league (the English Football League). Today England's top domestic league, the Premier League, is one of the most popular and richest sports leagues in the world, with six of the ten richest football clubs in the world as of 2019.

The England national football team is one of only eight teams to win the World Cup, in 1966. A total of five English club teams have won the UEFA Champions League (European Cup).

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West Bromwich Albion memorabilia from the 1954 FA Cup
West Bromwich Albion Football Club are an English professional football club based in West Bromwich, West Midlands. As of the 2007–08 season, the team plays in the Football League Championship, the second tier of English football, although they have competed in the top-flight for the majority of their existence. The club was formed in 1878 by workers from Salter's Spring Works in West Bromwich, and have played their home games at The Hawthorns since 1900.

Albion were one of the founding members of The Football League in 1888 but have won the league title only once, in 1919–20. They have had more success in the FA Cup, with five wins. The first came in 1888, the year the league was founded, and the most recent in 1968, their last major trophy. They also won the Football League Cup at the first attempt in 1966. Since the early 1980s the club has been less successful. From 1986 to 2002 they spent their longest ever period out of the top division, although there has been something of a revival in recent years, with three seasons spent in the Premiership between 2002 and 2006.

Did you know...

Statue of the 1966 World Cup winning England side
  • ...that in 1916, footballer Bob Benson volunteered to replace an absent Arsenal team-mate just before a game, only to collapse and die during the match?

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The FA National League System Cup is a football competition run by The Football Association. It was created in the 2003-04 season to provide an English representative in the UEFA Regions' Cup.

In previous Regions' Cups, the FA had nominated a team to take part; in the 2002-03 season it was a Kent County League XI. UEFA decreed that in the future all Regions' Cup entrants must have won a national competition, and so the NLS Cup was formed.

The cup is contested by representative sides from leagues at level 7 of the National League System with a few other leagues permitted by the FA. That is roughly at the county level or eleventh overall tier of the English football league system. The first final was held on May 8, 2004, and was won by the Mid Cheshire League, who beat the Cambridgeshire County League 2-0.

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Ryan Valentine scores a penalty for Wrexham to keep them in the Football League
Credit: Mark Barnes

Ryan Valentine scores a penalty for Wrexham F.C. in the final game of the 2006-07 season against Boston United. The losers of this game would be relegated to the Football Conference league. Wrexham won 3-1 to keep their place in Football League Two.

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